Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Red Sox Clinch! (was Red Sox Magic Number)


9/29 - 0 - The Red Sox lose again, giving up four runs in the first again, a late comeback falling short again, their fifth consecutive loss and seventh in nine games. None of which really matters as the Rangers fall 5-2 in LAnaheim, eliminating them from the post-season.

I've never been a fan of the expression "backing in to the playoffs" and that's not what Boston did. They won enough games early that the games late were less important, and they've been playing in "get everyone appropriate rest and lined up for the playoffs" more for a week. But it would have been nice if they'd earned themselves a celebration with a win rather than having their fans find out the next morning after another west coast Texas loss. In the last nine days, the magic number dropped from 7 to 0. It dropped by 2 on Red Sox wins and by 5 on Rangers losses.

Again, none of that matters anymore. The Red Sox will open in LAnaheim on Wednesday or Thursday of next week, hoping to earn a match-up with the winner of the New York-AL Central series. And congratulations are due to Theo Epstein, Terry Francona and the rest of the organization as they make their third consecutive trip to the post-season and sixth in seven years.

Older Entries

9/28 - 1 - The Red Sox are dormie. They're six up with six to play, guaranteed to get at least a 163rd game this season. One win, or Texas loss, and they clinch the AL Wild Card. This happened when Boston and Texas both lost on Monday. The Red Sox threw an emergency starter in place of a stiff-backed Josh Beckett, and it didn't go well, then the rains washed away their comeback attempt. The Rangers got blown out in LAnaheim.
Tuesday's games:
Toronto (Romero) at Boston (Buchholz)
Texas (Feldman) at LAnaheim (Kazmir)

9/27 - 2 - The Red Sox continue failing to score in New York, being swept by the Yankees while scoring only 7 runs in the three games. But they get a huge assist from the Rays, who score 3 runs in the 8th and 4 in the 9th to beat Texas 7-6. This keeps the Wild Card lead at 6 and drops the magic number to 2. One more win or Ranger loss guarantees the Red Sox at least a 163rd game - two has them starting a playoff series in LAnaheim in a week and a half.

The Yankees have clinched the AL East. The only relevant games remaining involve Boston and Texas. (Well, and Detroit and Minnesota, but those are really relevant to the Red Sox.)

Monday's games:
Toronto (Richmond) at Boston (Beckett)
Texas (Hunter) at LAnaheim (Santana)

Boston could clinch well after midnight eastern time, hours after finishing their game with Toronto, if they win and Texas loses in LAnaheim. If they're going to have a post-game champagne celebration, it'll have to be Tuesday, after a Boston loss or Texas win on Monday.

9/26 - 3 - For the second consecutive day, the Rangers win and the Red Sox lose. The Wild Card lead drops to 6, and the magic number remains at 3. This means that Boston's celebration for clinching a playoff berth will take place at home, as they play their last road game on Sunday.
Sunday's games:
Boston (Byrd) at New York (Pettitte)
Tampa Bay (Price) at Texas (McCarthy)

9/25 - 3 - Texas wins at home vs. Tampa, Boston loses in NY. The lead in the Wild Card drops to 7, the magic number stays at 3. But given where we are in the schedule, the only relevant information from Friday is that Jon Lester was hurt, and the only real impact will be felt if that prevents him from pitching, or being effective, going forward.
Saturday's games:
Boston (Matsuzaka) at New York (Sabathia)
Tampa Bay (Garza) at Texas (Millwood)

9/24 - 3 - Texas gets blown out in their last game in Oakland. The Wild Card lead bumps up to 7 1/2, the magic number drops to 4. Boston beats Kansas City 10-3 behind Clay Buchholz, and the lead goes to 8. The magic number drops to 3 with 10 games left. If the Rangers go 10-0 (they won't), the Red Sox need only go 3-7 to clinch. The Red Sox could clinch no worse than a tie (in golfing terminology, they'd be dormie) as early as Friday with a win in NY and a Texas loss.
Friday's games:
Boston (Lester) at NY Yankees (Chamberlain)
Tampa Bay (Shields) at Texas (Holland)

9/23 - 5 - Boston beats Kansas City. Texas beats Oakland. NY beats LAnaheim. The Red Sox lead in the Wild Card remains at 7 games with 11 to play, the magic number drops to 5. The Yankees lead in the East remains at 6 (5 in the loss column) and their magic number for clinching the East drops to 5.
Boston (Buchholz) at Kansas City (Davies)
Texas (Feldman) at Oakland (Anderson)
New York - off

9/22 - 6 - The Red Sox are shut down by Zach Greinke and lose their second straight in Kansas City. The Rangers fall to Oakland, so the Red Sox keep their 7 game lead, reducing the magic number by one to clinch. The dream of going into NY this weekend and tying the East is over, as the Yankees won in LAnaheim. This ensures that the NY lead entering the weekend will be at least 4 games in the loss column. That Monday night squander for the Sox in KC is going to sting for a couple of days.

9/21 - 7 - Opportunity squandered. The Rangers win in Oakland, so the Wild Card magic number doesn't drop. The Yankees lost in LAnaheim, so all the Red Sox had to do to control their own destiny for the division was hold on to the 9-2 lead they built up in Kansas over the first 4 1/2 innings. This they signally failed to do, losing 12-9 when the stellar bullpen collapsed upon itself. So the Yankees keep their 4-game LC lead in the East, and the Rangers get back to within 7 in the Wild Card race. And the magic numbers don't change.

9/20 - 7 - The Angels beat the Rangers 10-5, taking 2-of-3 in Texas and effectively finalizing three of the four AL playoff spots. Boston finishes off their three game sweep of the Orioles with a 9-3 win in Baltimore. The magic number for Boston to finish ahead of Texas drops by two to seven. Any combination of Red Sox wins and Ranger losses totaling seven guarantees that Boston finishes ahead of Texas.

The very interesting question right now is whether the Red Sox, who now go to Kansas City for four, and trail New York by five in the loss column, will have control of their own destiny when it comes to the AL East by the time they arrive in New York on Friday. While Boston plays four in KC, the Yankees will be playing four (one in Seattle which is underway as I write this and three in LAnaheim) on the west coast. If the Red Sox were to make up two games over the next four, they'd go in to NY down three in the loss column for a three game series. It's still unlikely that they win the division, but it isn't necessarily completely out of the realm of possibility as it looked just a couple of weeks ago.

9/19 - 9 - Texas comes back to beat LAnaheim, holding steady at 66 losses while giving the Angels their 60th. Boston beats Baltimore, clinging to an 11-5 lead, running their record to 88-59. With 15 games remaining, 9-6 is sufficient to guarantee a playoff spot.

As the Angels and Rangers have five remaining head-to-head, they are guaranteed to finish with at least 131 total losses. The best record that they can simultaneously get to is 96-66. Since the Rangers already have 66 losses, their magic number tonight is the same as their magic number vs. Texas.

9/18 - 10 - Boston beats Baltimore 3-1, dropping their magic number vs. the Rangers to 11 as their lead bumps back up to 7 in the loss column. Texas loses to LAnaheim 2-0, and the lead is 7. 10-6 gets Boston into the playoffs no matter what anyone else does, and they've got 13 left with Baltimore, Kansas City, Toronto and Cleveland. It's hard to look on this as anything but a formality at this point.

9/17 - 12 - Texas has the day off. Boston loses 4-3 to Anaheim. The magic number remains at 12, 11-6 becomes the record that guarantees a playoff berth.

9/16 - 12 - Texas' 4-0 loss to Oakland drops the Boston magic number vs. Texas to 13. Boston's 9-8, come-from-behind, little-bit-of-help-from-the-umps (not as much as the Angels think, because Green did check his swing, but ball four should have been strike 3) win over LAnaheim drops the magic number to 12. Any combination of Red Sox wins and Rangers losses totaling 12 eliminates Texas from the Wild Card.

But the magic number for Boston is actually a little bit lower. Texas could still win the west, finishing ahead of LAnaheim. In which case the competition for the Wild Card would be with the Angels. Boston's magic number vs. LAnaheim is 18.

Texas and LAnaheim have seven games left head-to-head. Given that they currently have 125 losses, and are guaranteed at least seven more, the best record that they can each reach simultaneously is 96-66. If Boston goes 11-7 in their last 18, they will finish at 97-65 and be guaranteed a playoff spot.

9/15 - 14 - Boston's 4-1 win over the LAnaheim Angels drops the magic number to 15. Texas' 6-1 loss to Oakland increases Boston's lead to 5 1/2 games, 6 in the loss column, and drops the magic number to 14. Any combination of Red Sox wins and Rangers losses totaling 14 eliminates Texas from the Wild Card.

9/14 - 16 - Boston has the day off. Texas loses to Oakland 9-0, increasing Boston's Wild Card lead to 4 1/2 games, 5 in the loss column. Boston's magic number is 16. Any combination of Boston wins and Texas losses totaling 16 results in Boston finishing ahead of Texas.

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